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Cent 354 Computer Architecture A Project Class Using Cooperative Learning

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.97.1 - 2.97.5



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Elmer A. Grubbs

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2348

CENT 354 - Computer Architecture - A Project Class Using Cooperative Learning

Elmer A. Grubbs The University of Southern Colorado


CENT 354, a junior level course in the Electronic Engineering Technology (EET) and Computer Engineering Technology (CENT) department at the University of Southern Colorado, has been taught once a year for the last eight years. In its present form, it includes a substantial project, which involves building a four bit microprocessor using a XILINX XC3000 series integrated circuit and some external circuitry; the class also involves substantial collaborative learning and is taught using an active learning structure. Students who complete the course are able to design and build complex digital systems using the XILINX Design Manager, and in fact, one of the major outcomes is that students often use this field programmable gate array system in the design of their senior design projects.

This paper describes the microprocessor system, and the course structure in detail, including the techniques used in teaming, and active learning. It also includes a section on future improvements, such as a more comprehensive design project which is modeled more along the lines of an actual company project. This future structure would include oral proposals, design reviews, project management, larger design teams and more realistic purchasing department models.


CENT 354, Computer Architecture, is a junior level required course in Electronics Engineering Technology (EET) at the University of Southern Colorado. It includes as prerequisites a course in Digital Logic (EET 254), and a basic course in Microprocessors (CENT 255). There are three hours of lecture each week and two hours of laboratory. The lab section has nine PC compatible 486, 66 Mhz workstations with windows 3.1, allowing for 18 to 27 students, working in teams of two to three students each. The course has been taught each fall since 1989.

The lecture section of the class consists first of a brief review of the digital and microprocessor courses, followed by a steered design of the basic components of a four bit microprocessor, which can solve a simple equation of the form y = mx + b. This involves presenting to the students techniques for designing the data components of a computer such as the accumulator, program counter, instruction register, bus structure, etc, as well as the control structure which is necessary to implement eight basic instructions. A block diagram of the data section and the list of instructions is shown in figure one. The design of the control section is based on a

Grubbs, E. A. (1997, June), Cent 354 Computer Architecture A Project Class Using Cooperative Learning Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6445

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